Nagarekawa is a town that isn't known for much, and places like this are resorting to local idols (locodol) to boost publicity. Nanako is an average girl attending school, but short on money. By luck her uncle offers her a job attending a re-opening of the local pool, just the place she wanted to be. After accepting pay in advance she can't back out, which is exactly what she wants to do when she learns she will be performing on stage during the opening. Thankfully a girl named Yukari was also hired and they make it through the day. Together they'll become a locodol duo for the town. Being a locodol isn't just about fame or money, it's about revitalizing the region. Does Nanako have what it takes? How can promote a town who's only defining trait is a river running through it?
I've watched enough idol anime I didn't like to where I'm fairly sceptical about them now. Maybe I'm always hopeful I'll be surprised, which I certainly was in how much I enjoyed Locodol. I'd say it's my favorite idol-ish anime. That's partially because Locodol isn't strictly an idol anime, and therefore may not be for fans of the idol genre (with songs and performances, etc).
Locodol has decent artwork, but doesn't excel in sound track, animation or pretty much anything. Oddly that lack of budget fits in well with the theme, and it would feel wrong if it were otherwise. It's not a slice of life show because it has an actual story, just a very tame one.
What makes this anime interesting and different is the nature of a "locodol". A local idol is a small town version of a real idol, lacking the polish and professionalism of the real deal. And that's what makes this anime so charming. Their simplistic dance moves are a little off and kind of cheesy. Their singing is only mostly on key, and a step above karaoke. But Nanako and Yukari do their best all the same, and become a kind of home town team you want to root for, even if they aren't at the pro level.
The consistent focus is one of the best attributes of this anime. It's not a rise to fame story, as that would defeat the purpose. This contrasts with a locodol group from another town Awa Awa Girls, who rose to greater fame. In outgrowing their locodol status, their effectiveness in promoting their hometown diminished as focus went to them instead of their home (which they do take pride in and can name many great things about). Yukari is certainly the calibre of girl who could become a pro idol, but Nanako is rather plain and unremarkable. However Nanako is friendly and very likable, precisely the kind of girl to be a locodol. Where as idol shows emphasize the amount of time spent practicing, the lack of professionalism in a locodol means they don't do a whole lot of that, freeing up time for other story elements, washing windows, and other things they convince the girls to do. Locodol never slips on it's premise by having the girls becoming polished, and even by the end they're featured on TV wearing T-shirts with a sponsor's name scribbled on the front.
What makes Locodol exceptionally cute are the many many little things which are too many to list in a review. But the way they come together makes this a warm fuzzy kind of anime. Even if you're not into idol stuff, Locodol is a great watch if you want a relaxed feel good show.
Aoi: We wanted to perform in Nagarekawa, but there wasn't a venue big enough for us.
Tsubasa: Yeah, the supermarket parking lot is pretty small.
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